BLOG: Advocacy at CUPS
Public policies are the principles, often unwritten, on which social laws are based. These rules impact each person in society in different ways. For example, while an increase in income support may not reach you individually, it can have a significant impact on the lives of those who rely on it to meet their basic needs. Correspondingly, while certain policies may not resonate with every segment of the population equally, it is important that every citizen, regardless of income, has a voice in the policy-making process.
By now you probably know that, at CUPS, we strive to embed the science of building brains and resiliency into our work. We believe that these two concepts play a key role in preventing and reducing the transmission of trauma and poverty. However, we also know that our work is reliant on the government policies and systems that we operate within. Therefore, due to the level of influence that these larger systems have on our work, CUPS, as an organization, sees the value of entering the public policy arena.
Individuals that access CUPS are less likely to be involved in the policy-making process and, as a result, are often left out of important decisions that profoundly influence their lives. Therefore, policy advocacy within the non-profit sector helps gives a voice to every segment of society. AsCUPS contemplates what advocacy means to our work, it is important to start with a clear definition under which we operate.
Advocacy, in all its forms, seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to:
Have their voice heard on issues that are important to them
Defend and safeguard their rights
Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives
Policy advocacy is any attempt to influence the decisions of an institutional elite (i.e.policy-makers) on behalf of a collective interest.
Advocacy focused on systems-level change plays a critical role in reducing systemic barriers that prevent people from achieving self-sufficiency- which is central to CUPS’ mission. Furthermore, these efforts accelerate the impact of the frontline work that we do and, in turn, the lessons we learn from our frontline work help to uncover systemic issues that exist. As we continue to learn more about the importance of advocacy at CUPS, our hope is to coordinate our work with others striving for the same results. Together, we can build a more resilient community.
Written by: Kirsten Boda, Master of Public Policy and passionate about exploring solutions to complex social issues.